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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 02:28 PM
Number of posts: 60,536

Journal Archives

Lobbyist helped broker Scott Pruitt's $100,000 trip to Morocco

Source: The Washington Post

By Kevin Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis May 1 at 5:22 PM

MARRAKESH, Morocco — A controversial trip to Morocco by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt last December was partly arranged by a longtime friend and lobbyist, who accompanied Pruitt and his entourage at multiple stops and served as an informal liaison at both official and social events during the visit.

Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known the EPA administrator for years, worked for months with Pruitt’s aides to hammer out logistics, according to four individuals familiar with those preparations. In April, Smotkin won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s cultural and economic interests. He recently registered as a foreign agent representing that government.

The four-day journey has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and the EPA inspector general, who is investigating its high costs and whether it adhered to the agency’s mission to “protect human health and the environment.”

Information obtained by The Washington Post shows the visit’s cost exceeded $100,000, more than twice what has been previously reported — including $16,217 for Pruitt’s Delta airfare and $494 for him to spend one night at a luxury hotel in Paris. He was accompanied by eight staffers and his round-the-clock security detail.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lobbyist-helped-broker-pruitts-100000-trip-to-morocco/2018/05/01/b2e20ee0-4d76-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html

Trump appears to have robbed his doctor's office and violated New York medical law: MSNBC analyst


TMZ journalist slams Kanye West to his face for saying slavery was 'a choice'

‘The absence of thought’: TMZ journalist slams Kanye West to his face for saying slavery was ‘a choice’

01 MAY 2018 AT 16:17 ET

Controversial musician Kayne West joined TMZ Newsroom to try and rehabilitate his image after his tweetstorm praising President Donald Trump.

Harvey Levin asked West, who is married to Kim Kardishan, about the message he was trying to send by donning a “Make America Great Again” hat in support of President Trump.


West expounded on his support for Trump by suggesting forced slavery is a conspiracy theory and that in practice, it was a choice by blacks.

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” West argued. “Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all?”

Not everyone was impressed with West continuing to defend Trump.

“I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything,” shouted Van Lathan, from the TMZ newsroom, as he stood up. “I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought.”

more + video

Rosenstein On Impeachment Threat: The DOJ 'Is Not Going To Be Extorted'

Source: Talking Points Memo

By Kate Riga | May 1, 2018 3:18 pm

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the Department of Justice “is not going to be extorted” and that he has no response to documents that “nobody has the courage to put their name on” in response to inquiries about the articles of impeachment the House Freedom Caucus is drafting to possibly bring against him.

Watch below:



Read more: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rosenstein-says-doj-will-not-be-extorted

Sarah Sanders: White House 'raid' on Trump's former doctor is 'standard operating procedure'

Source: RawStory

01 MAY 2018 AT 15:24 ET

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday insisted that President Donald Trump’s former bodyguard was following “standard operating procedure” when he reportedly raided the office of the president’s former doctor.

During Tuesday’s White House briefing, Sanders was asked why former White House staffer Keith Schiller forcibly took President Trump’s records from his former physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein.

“As is standard operating procedure, the White House medical unit took possession of the president’s medical records,” Sanders explained, disputing reports that characterized the incident as a “raid.” One reporter noted that some experts had compared the alleged raid to a “burglary.”

“Once again, it would be standard procedure for the president — a newly elected president’s medical records to be in possession of the White House’s medical unit,” Sanders insisted. “That’s what was taking place. Those records were being transferred over to the White House medical unit as requested by the president.”


Read more: https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/sarah-sanders-white-house-raid-trumps-former-doctor-standard-operating-procedure/

On Iran and North Korea, Trump prepares to screw everything up

By Paul Waldman May 1 at 1:27 PM

There are some arguments so dumb only President Trump could take them seriously. That’s the only conclusion you could reach after seeing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s faux-dramatic speech on Monday, in which he literally pulled a sheet off a pile of documents, like a magician unveiling a cage full of doves, to demonstrate Iran’s dishonesty about its nuclear program.

The point of the act was to persuade Trump to pull out of the nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 between the United States, Iran, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union, and it just might succeed. Which in turn could make a nuclear agreement with North Korea all but impossible.

As you look around at these high-stakes matters of foreign policy and national security, you quickly realize that everyone, no matter which side they’re on, takes it as a given that the president of the United States is an infantile half-wit, and they must adjust their strategies accordingly.

Let’s start with Netanyahu’s speech. Citing a trove of materials Israeli intelligence acquired in a raid on an Iranian facility, he said he would present “conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive.” The documents show that Iran’s regular protestations that it had never sought nuclear weapons were false. Here’s how he concluded:


What's the longest war in American history? Fighting for the right to vote


Anga L. Sanders was a Democratic precinct chair in Dallas, Texas where she was deputized to register voters and recently assembled and moderated a panel of young Black female voting rights activists. She is a Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project.

"No, Gertrude, you can't go. I might not make it back, and somebody has to stay here and raise these girls."

With those words, my grandfather, farmer James DeWitt Rhoden, left his wife and two daughters in the late 1930s and set off for downtown Quitman, Texas to vote.

He knew that his mission could end his life. As he mounted the tall steps of the Wood County courthouse, a crowd of hostile white men closed in behind him.

"DeWitt! Where do you think you're going?" He never turned around.

Perhaps because they knew he wouldn’t go down alone, my grandfather was allowed to cast his vote and return home to his family. Decades later, my mother (his daughter) related this story to me.

History may record that the longest war in the history of the United States was neither the Vietnam War nor the war in Afghanistan, but the ongoing war against disenfranchisement, which is the denial of the right to vote.


MSNBC host compiles list of White House officials who have reportedly insulted Trump

BY MORGAN GSTALTER - 05/01/18 02:34 PM EDT


MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle on Tuesday put together a list of current and former officials in President Trump's administration who have reportedly insulted the president.

White House chief of staff John Kelly called an NBC News report “total BS” on Monday after it claimed that he has called Trump “an idiot” on multiple occasions.

“This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes,” Kelly said in a White House statement on Monday. Ruhle stood by her NBC News team’s reporting on Tuesday, saying “this is not a false story.”

To back up her point, Ruhle rounded up other reports of Trump officials insulting the president.

“John Kelly is not the first member of the Trump administration to call the president names,” she said.



Better Call Cohen: The Shady Cases of a Trump Lawyer's Personal Injury Practice

Source: Rolling Stone

The president's personal attorney represented multiple clients in New York who allegedly staged car crashes to cheat insurance companies

By Seth Hettena
2 hours ago

A few years before he started working for Donald Trump, and long before he gave legal advice to people like Fox News personality Sean Hannity, Michael D. Cohen had a different kind of clientele. Cohen roamed the courthouses of New York City, filing lawsuits on behalf of people with little means who were seeking compensation for the injuries they suffered in car collisions. Many personal-injury lawyers make their living this way, but there was something striking about Cohen's cases: Some of the crashes at issue didn't appear to be accidents at all.

A Rolling Stone investigation found that Cohen represented numerous clients who were involved in deliberate, planned car crashes as part of an attempt to cheat insurance companies. Furthermore, investigations by insurers showed that several of Cohen's clients were affiliated with insurance fraud rings that repeatedly staged "accidents." And at least one person Cohen represented was indicted on criminal charges of insurance fraud while the lawsuit he had filed on her behalf was pending. Cohen also did legal work for a medical clinic whose principal was a doctor later convicted of insurance fraud for filing phony medical claims on purported "accident" victims. Taken together, a picture emerges that the personal attorney to the president of the United States was connected to a shadowy underworld of New York insurance fraud, a pervasive problem dominated by Russian organized crime that was costing the state's drivers an estimated $1 billion a year.

Cohen was never charged with any wrongdoing in any of these cases and there is no evidence that he knowingly filed false claims, which potentially could be grounds for criminal charges and disbarment. It was unclear whether any materials dating from his days as a personal-injury attorney were among the items seized in an April 9th raid on Cohen's offices, home and hotel room. Messages left with Cohen and his attorney were not returned.

In one case, Cohen filed a bodily injury lawsuit on behalf of a woman named Tara Pizzingrillo, who was a passenger in a car that was struck by a rented vehicle in 1999 in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn. In the 2002 complaint Cohen drafted and filed, Pizzingrillo sued the driver of the rental, Brian McFarland, claiming that she suffered bulging discs, and demanding $1 million from Enterprise Rent-A-Car's parent company, ELRAC Inc.

Read more: https://www.rollingstone.com/shady-cases-michael-cohen-personal-injury-practice-w519679

Mueller questions raise new hacking tangles for Trumps

Joe Uchill 3 hours ago

The New York Times obtained a copy of the questions special counsel Robert Mueller submitted to President Trump's lawyers and among them was this subtle bombshell: "What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?"

Why it matters: The old saw is that good lawyers don't ask questions they don't know the answers to. The phrasing — outreach to Russia rather than outreach from — suggests Mueller may have reason to believe the Trump campaign requested Russian assistance in the campaign.

Manafort started with the Trump campaign in March of 2016. In April, the believed Russian hackers registered the DC Leaks website, a WikiLeaks clone that appears to be the original plan for releasing hacked emails before the group pivoted to Wikileaks. That summer, the Democratic National Committee would announce it had been hacked.

* Yes, but: The DNC hackers had already burrowed into the DNC network before Manafort joined the campaign, and the question certainly doesn't imply this was Manafort's first move as campaign manager. Reaching out does not mean a Russian plan was already in the works.

Meanwhile: The other Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., may have violated the U.S.'s major antihacking law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, writes Orin Kerr in Lawfare.


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